Coaching should be about more than just winning

%22Bring+the+Hammer%22

"Bring the Hammer"

Niki Smithers, Sports Editor

A freshman running back broke away from defenders against Bloomington North, only to purposely step out at the one yard line. Freshman Juan Cerda-Duran, who wasn’t a starter and probably never would be was given a chance to do something special. His coaches, including Chris Stevenson, saw that he came to every practice and worked as hard as he possibly could day in and day out. Stevenson and the other coaches decided it was that player’s time to shine. With the help of freshman quarterback Eddie Schott, Cerda-Duran ran in his first touchdown.
Stevenson is the kind of coach that anyone involved in student-athletics should be. When athletes are still in school, sports should be more about building relationships and life skills rather than winning.
Because he was a former athlete, Stevenson believes he has a different mind set than other coaches. He says that he knows players struggle to have motivation both in and out of school because it can feel like the exact same thing is happening day in and day out. Players go to school and then run the same drills everyday at practice.
“It’s (about) getting to know kids outside the athletic venue,” Stevenson said. “A lot of people talk about being student-athletes, but I think people who know me know that I get to know the person before I get to know the athlete.”
Because he builds relationships with his players, Stevenson says it easier to know how to encourage them. Some players respond better to yelling, while others respond when you pull them aside and ask what’s going on. Knowing his players as just people helps Stevenson pick up on what’s happening in their lives, if they’ve had a bad day or if they’re just out of it.
Stevenson has a stronger bond with the class of 2019 football players than most others. Because he has coached them since the 7th grade, he was able to connect with them on a completely different level. Rather than just watching them grow, Stevenson says he grew with them.
One thing his players know is that he’s an avid Boise State fan. Stevenson takes elements from Boise State and implements them in his coaching. He says that for Boise State, there is never a peak to how successful they can be. They just keep climbing. Before every football game, the Boise State football team runs out of the tunnel carrying a sledge hammer. Stevenson and several players go the motto and wear bracelets that say, “Bring the Hammer.” Which is a constant reminder that they need to put all their effort into what they do, whether it’s on or off the field.
“(‘Bring the Hammer’) has gone bigger than Boise State,” Stevenson said. “It’s that symbol for me that I think everybody should have. I think having that constant reminder that I need to bring it every day, even when I have a little headache, I need to bring it in the classroom, number one, and then to any athletic event I have and with my family. That hammer piece is a driving force for me.”
It seems like a majority of coaches are just concerned with winning, but Stevenson is concerned with the bigger picture. He says that coaching is more than just a transaction of telling a player what to do and them doing it. He doesn’t want his players going out and winning for him. He wants them to learn how to build relationships instead.
Stevenson realizes that sports are about more than just winning and losing. He knows that his players won’t be involved in athletics forever. His take on coaching is what makes him unique. Not many coaches are as concerned with the relationships they have with their players as they are with winning. They could learn a thing or two from him.